University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Friday, December 4th 2015
Speaker: Peter Distelzweig, University of St. Thomas
Subject: Method and Morals in William Harvey's Philosophical Anatomy
Refreshments served at 3:15 p.m.

In the preface to his 1655 De Corpore, Thomas Hobbes identified William Harvey as the first to discover and demonstrate the science of the human body, and set him alongside Copernicus and Galileo as a founder of genuine natural science. Hobbes says Harvey is the only man he knows who, conquering envy, established a new doctrine in his own lifetime. Harvey himself frames his De motu cordis (1628) as an effort, both methodologically sound and morally upright, to convince “studious, good, and honest men” despite the ill will and machinations of those with biased minds. Drawing on his anatomy lecture notes, I first unpack Harvey’s understanding of right method in “philosophical anatomy.” I then trace how this understanding shapes Harvey’s argumentation in the De motu cordis, including its moral valence.

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